Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Trofast as changing table

When I was buying the furniture for Zadie's nursery, I couldn't let myself buy a regular changing table. It was hard to find anything attractive for less than $100. A lot of the brands weren't even made of real wood. Also, once your kid is potty trained, you have this odd piece of "wood" with no other use.

So when I saw the Trofast system at Ikea, I did some measuring and came up with this idea. We bought the stair-step piece and the single unit. Mr. Lemon cut a piece of plywood 1" larger than the changing table pad. I had some teal fleece in a bin so I cut it to size, wrapped it around the plywood and stapled it to the plywood like I was stretching a canvas. So the staples wouldn't scratch the Trofast pieces, I used double-sided tape to put a layer of felt on top of the staples. Mr. Lemon was concerned about safety so he somehow attached the two Trofast pieces together (leaving enough distance between them so that the plywood would fit nicely).

This has been working great for us. The Trofast system is the same size as a standard changing table and doesn't kill Mr. Lemon's back like the pack n play does. The best part about this is that when the baby's no longer in diapers, we'll have a great storage system for all her stuff. If we're lucky, she won't crack her head too many times while she's climbing all over it.

I have more pictures of this system and the nursery over on my flickr.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Love love love

So my preempted rant post is doing some good! My friend Amanda (that's her dog Bleu up there in a photo of hers that I stole from her flickr) was in a pissy mood, read my blog and got all inspired to write her own post about why she loves her life.

Imagine how much happier everyone would be if we just took a couple of minutes out of the day to think about the things we love!

If you decide to write your own post about loving life, please let me know. Some days I don't feel very effective (or is it affective?).

Monday, July 28, 2008

Rant week: discontinued

I never rant on this blog. I like ranting but I really don't ever get around to it. However, something really got me going the other day and I decided to do an entire week of ranting right here.

Then as I was looking through one of my favorite blogs, [i] love life, for a specific post, I decided to cut rant week short. I guess I preempted rant week since I hadn't even gotten started. I'm usually a pretty positive person anyway.

K. Barteski, author of [i] love life, is an artist and a mother with an adorable baby just a few months older than Zadie. Her blog is a mix of talking about her art and her life. She seems incredibly happy, is an amazing artist, and is constantly positive.

I realized that since I, too, am in love with my life, I really shouldn't bother with venting. What good is it to dwell on the negative things? Not much at all.

But just in case you were wondering, here are the topics of the recently forgotten rant week (there were actually only 3):
1. People who ask you questions about your process and never thank you when you give away your secrets.
2. People who think it's okay to touch your baby. Hello? Germs? Strangers? I don't even let mom hold the baby before she's washed her hands, why would I want some kid in the Kmart touching the baby.
3. The parking situation on my street.

That picture up there is from the alphabet wall I put together for Zadie's nursery. I spent a lot of time on it and I think it turned out great. The hedgehog in the middle is one of the free pieces I got from the aforementioned blog. I'll write a post about the nursery later.

But since I made a list of idle rants, I think I should share why I love my life since I have a lot more reasons than I had rants to begin with:
1. I have an amazing husband.
2. I have an adorable baby who smiles almost all the time now and everytime she does I can feel it through my entire body.
3. I live within walking distance of a small farmer's market. We go there every weekend (although we have yet to walk it with baby in tow. The Babyhawk can get hot and it's super humid here too. Soon.).
4. At that market Firefly Farms sells delicious goat cheese. It has less fat than my old standy, colbyjack and is made locally.
5. This list can go on forever so I'll stop.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

I'm a Crafty Bastard!

I just got the chance to check my email and read that I was one of 95 applicants accepted into this year's show. This is such great news. I was a vendor last year and it was, by far, the best show ever (with Handmade Arcade running a very very close second).

See you September 28!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Tofu, how I missed you

So I meant to write about this a while back but I totally forgot. It's really great news: I can eat soy again! As you may remember, I got allergic to it while I was pregnant -- crazy hives all over. It took weeks to figure out what the heck was causing it.

When Zadie was 6 weeks old, the dermatologist gave me the goahead. I dove in head first with a delicious Tofishy sandwich from Zenith while we were at the I Made It! Market in Pittsburgh's South Side.

I haven't had any adverse reactions and Zadie seems fine with it as it comes through the boob. Soy and dairy are common allergens for breastfed babies so I paid a lot of attention to her behavior that day and the next.

The whole ordeal, however, really got me to wondering. When I was pregnant, I had to read labels with a vengeance. Soy is in almost everything and the tiniest little molecule of the stuff would send me to scratchland. I also read a lot on the dangers of soy and the benefits of soy. I came to the decision that moderation really is the best scenario for all of us.

We stopped drinking soy milk a long time ago and opted for the more benign rice version. Lately we're trying to alternate some other soy- and dairy-free versions like almond milk. In our lives, we avoid processed foods as much as possible. It wasn't making sense anymore for us to eat all this stuff that's tauted as being "healthy" simply because it wasn't a meat product (or by-product). Now we only eat things like soy burgers, soy dogs, and my favorite chik nuggets and patties if it's a last resort (for example, we are at someone's bbq or out to eat with my parents). And perhaps last resort isn't the best term. Basically, we've stopped buying it but will definitely support businesses and restaurants that offer vegetarian options.

At home, we eat tofu that's locally made. We've been eating a lot of bean dishes and even hiding beans in other foods. My favorite is potato soup with a can of Great Northern beans blended and poured in. But I'm proud of us for downsizing our processed vegetarian stock. It's been a challenge because the modern vegetarian diet consists so much of these meat replacers and that doesn't make sense either. I stopped eating meat in the early '90s because it was started making me feel gross. I wasn't an animal rights activist (although I married one) and I certainly am not a health nut. I don't know why or how all these fake meats became such a staple of our diet. But now that they're gone, I just feel so much better -- and I'm eating for two of us now.

Oh, that fabulous tofu man up there is by Etsy seller ButtonArcade.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

I absolutely must have this

Someone should buy it for Zadie.

I was coveting this monkey doll that my postnatal (with baby!) yoga teacher had with her in class today to keep her son occupied. I checked out the website and found this elf.

I almost bought the monkey even though we're a little worried that's the only animal our kid will know when I saw this wonderful sprite: a dream come true.

To end... I would like to add that my Fall line will feature elves. It was going to be a secret but this little guy made me want to spill the beans!

eta: someone just splurged and bought this crazy expensive doll probably more for herself than for her baby...

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Storque feature

I was recently featured in Etsy's Storque. It's like an online newsletter/blog where they highlight issues in the world of craft.

My work was discussed as part of the Handmade Kids series they are doing right now. I'm also going to enter the Handmade Kids contest. I'm thinking one of the new rompers...

Friday, July 11, 2008

The Cloth Diaper Report . part two (newborn)

the prefolds and some lap pads hanging on the line

The Reviews.

I had originally made this one long post but decided to break it into two. But first, I wanted to add that I got a lot of information from asking questions and reading reviews on the Diaper Pin. It's a forum with really helpful people who are all doing the cloth diaper thing.

So anyway, here's a rundown of what I bought and how it worked:

Love love love the Thirsties covers. They come in great colors and fit her fabulously. The XS still fits and she is already wearing the S. Never had a leak. We already bought a medium to use later.

Hate the Proraps. The newborn size we got was stiff and never really loosened up. It is minty green. She has already grown out of it and the S is still too big. These just don't work for us.

(Both of these companies have mixed reviews online. It seems that some people like the Thirsties and some people like the Proraps. It might be best to buy one of each and test them both. Every baby has a different shape.)

I LOVE my Geny cover. It looks huge but has a surprisingly snug fit. I bought this from her Etsy shop ( She has grown her business since then and now offers a more trim diaper in her off-Etsy website.

Hate the Thirsties "fab" fitted (my quotes). This diaper is a joke. It is not at all absorbent. As I mentioned before, we are using these next to the baby's skin so she doesn't feel wet. We have to pad it with a prefold or a soaker to actually absorb the wetness.

I bought a Kissaluvs fitted, two Loveybums, and one Dream-Eze fitted. These are all great -- very absorbent and relatively quick to dry. The only problem is that with a small baby, you get a very large bottom. I think that once she's bigger and we're on the last snaps, it will be much better. The good side to this is that we have four diapers that are going to fit for a long time. The Kissaluvs is the only one that doesn't have a snap-in soaker so it takes the longest to dry. It's good to have a couple of fitteds on hand for those days when you just don't feel like folding up the prefold and dealing with the Snappis.

Pocket Diapers.
The Happy Heinys pocket diaper is already getting small so we have bought a couple of M sizes. They do not come with inserts so you'll need to buy them separately. These fit our baby really well and are nice and thin. Now that we have a couple of mediums, we'll be using them during the day with just one soaker.

I have bought a couple of BumGenius diapers and my friend Joy who gave us all the newborn covers also gave us a bunch of different types of diapers to try. Of course, I bought some diapers from Etsy sellers. I already mentioned by Geny cover but I also picked up some AIOs (all in ones -- these are just like disposables but you wash them). They are still too big so they will be covered in part three.

I was thinking AIOs would be great for day trips and going to the Grandmas. Surprisingly, both Grandmas were fine with the prefolds and picked up the bikini twist like champs. We also don't have a problem changing the prefolds while out of the house. I bought a couple of small wetbags that fit in the diaper bag (these I just wash with my regular laundry) and we're good to go.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

The Cloth Diaper Report . part one (newborn)

sleepy baby lemon in a diaper i made

I spent weeks researching cloth diapers before Baby Lemon arrived and despite all the work, I still ended up making some mistakes. So I decided to write up a post for all the people who are research obsessed like me. You can take my advice and buy what I think worked best.

Since I sew, I came to the decision to use fitted diapers with covers for the tiny baby stage. I love to sew but I don't like too much of a challenge so I didn't want to deal with the PUL (that's the waterproof stuff they make covers and wetbags out of). I can sew a fitted diaper for about 2$ (maybe less, I didn't really do the math). You can buy fitted diapers from $16 - $24. Time is money but since I'm on maternity leave, I got plenty of it.

But who wants to sew diapers when you have a wailing infant? (So more on fitteds with part three.)

We started with a set of unbleached newborn size prefold diapers and 9 covers. People will tell you that you need 4 - 6 covers but I think more is better. Your baby will be able to wear the covers for long after they're out of the newborn size prefolds so they have a lot of staying power (and so does the smell of hot pee so you really want to wash these every other diaper cycle). We use the bikini twist and it has kept in most poonamis.

You'll need about 4 Snappis as well. They are these little plastic thingys that are pretty cheap and much easier than pins. If your newborn is sedate, go for pins if you dare. My baby is Ms. Squirmalin so we "stick" with what's fastest. We keep a couple of the Snappis by the changing table and a couple with the pack n play.

I got several covers from a friend of mine but they're really inexpensive. I paid just over $1 each for the prefolds and washed them 6 times (hot/hot in the wash with a hot temp in the dryer -- that's called "prepping"). The covers I pre-washed just once because I always wash everything that goes on the baby's soft sensitive skin.

I alternated a pinch of Dawn dishwashing liquid with some eco-friendly Planet detergent we were able to find here at our Kroger. Now we just use the Planet for every wash. If your diapers start to become less absorbent, it's time to use the Dawn for a cycle or two to strip the dipes of any residue that's caused the situation.

I also bought 24 unbleached infant size prefolds. (I actually bought a mix of Indian and Chinese prefolds to see what was best and I can't even tell them apart now. They are equal). We used the newborn size during the day and the infant size at night. The infant size is a lot bigger and more absorbent. At 9 weeks, she has long outgrown the newborn dipes but still fits into the infant sizes. Our baby usually cries within seconds of wetting her diaper so we change often.

This situation lasted great for a few weeks. Then she started wanting to sleep longer at night but was waking up because she could feel the wetness -- not because she was hungry. We changed our plan of attack. In my pregnant crazy state I bought a wide variety of diapers and this is when they came in handy. We have two scenarios that work for us: 1. a Happy Heinys pocket diaper (size S) stuffed with one soaker insert and one folded up prefold and 2. a Thirsties "fab" fitted with a prefold folded up behind it (not inside it) and all wrapped up in a cover. These worked well because the layers touching the baby are synthetic fabrics so they wicked away the wetness from the baby and she felt dry. We are still using this method and the baby is now sleeping almost 8 hours a night before she wakes up. It's heaven.

Best of all: the diaper in the picture! It's the one that I made. It has a cotton velour inner layer that touches the baby so she doesn't feel dry (it's 80% cotton). The outside is two layers of flannel (an ugly one that no one sees and the cute outer print). It has a pocket for the soaker inserts. I'm making those too (they're cut but not stitched yet). I have no plans to sell these in the shop. I used a free pattern I got online and it fits perfectly and will fit for some time. It does require a cover. It's actually quite wet in this picture (on a very sleepy baby just waking up!).

I'll write up another post in a couple of weeks once we get into a new routine. We're still sticking mainly with the prefolds and covers at 9 weeks.

We have enough diapers now that we only do laundry every other day. Our washing machine has a water level setting so we only use what we need and we hang everything out on the line to dry. When it's raining, we use a drying rack in the basement.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

New goods.

After many a sneak peek and a bunch of hints, it's time for the grand unveiling. I listed the first of the new line this afternoon and I have to say I absolutely love it.

The seersucker fabric was wonderful to work with; it's just such good quality. I also love the new blanks. They're a brand called Rabbit Skins and the cotton is nice and sturdy and won't shrink much at all.

There are 4 different rompers: aqua with a reproduction quilt fabric, lime green with a coral/orange seersucker, yellow with a green seersucker and bright orange stitching for amazing contrast, hot pink with the popular bird bean flannel (that gorgeous cherry blossom print) and two ringer tees. One is an aqua with pink trim and pink seersucker while the other is orange with blue trim and a blue seersucker. Most of these are unisex -- something I try to always have since so many people buy my items for baby shower gifts.

I'll be carrying the rompers in 6 months, 12 months, and 18 months. The ringer tees are sizes 2 and 4 for toddlers. I'll be happy to do custom orders for larger sizes but as usual, the sizes and colors are going to vary depending on what I can get.

I plan to list one in my Etsy shop each day this week. For now, check out my flickr for more photos.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

I think we can do it.

So this weekend we did our first craft show with Baby Lemon. The little model slept soundly in the car the whole way there, while we were unloading, and while we were setting up. She only woke up when I took her to the Odyssey to eat because I was getting worried. (She probably would have been fine but I'm a new mom...).

The event was a total success. The weather was not. It was incredibly hot and humid until it poured. Luckily, we were mostly packed up so only a couple of the bins got a bit wet. We've got the tent out of the bag and drying in the basement.

As always, the Pittsburgh shoppers were awesome. This was my third show up there and everyone is super supportive and nice. I was hoping to see some of the people who stopped by at Handmade Arcade but the cloudy skies kept a lot of people away.

I made a lot of changes to the whole setup. While reviewing pictures of last year's events, I decided that it was all just too busy. There was too much going on. I made bright lemon shapes and used black sticker letters in different fonts easy-to-read items and pricing. I also made a couple of sale signs. I really like the way they turned out.

Because of the weather, I couldn't use my tall displays. The shirts or onesies just act like sails and are so hard to control. I will definitely be using them again when it's not so windy. I think the look is really important to my tables.

I also decided not to use the yellow baskets with the lemons and cadet plushies. I thought maybe they were a bit distracting but now I think the display is looking a little bland so maybe they'll make a comeback -- or maybe the tall displays are all I need. We'll have to wait until next time to see.

Baby Lemon is generally very cooperative during the day. She was pretty easy this time (thanks to tinted windows and the awesome event coordinators who let me use their offices to feed her later in the afternoon). I've applied to a couple of shows that aren't too far away and have plans to apply for several more to take advantage of my maternity leave. I think we're just going to keep taking it one day at a time.

There are a few more pictures with notes in my flickr.